John Prideaux 1505 – 1568

John Prideaux stars in the book A Ghost Story .

A Ghost Story A A Prideaux

The book is set in Harford, near Stowford on Devon

He also is mentioned in the book. The Bishop and The Witch.

bishop and the witch a a prideaux cover

The story is about the Bishop of Worcester and is set in Oxford and Harford, near Stowford Devon.

John Prideaux was grandfather of the Bishop.


Richard de Pridias Lord of Prideaux – 1070 -1122

Richard de Pridias Lord of Prideaux lived between 1070 and 1122.

The documentation negotiated by Richard Pridias, shows how involved the family swiftly became with the Normans. The Priory was built within five years of the agreed documentation, so it can be assumed that both Richard and Baldwin were instrumental in the completion of the building. It was to be another priory connected to SS Sergius and Bacchus of Angers. Tywardreath was one of eight monasteries in Cornwall, which were maintained outside of Cornwall.
Richard Pridias had seen many changes in the county of Cornwall. The people were exploited by their new masters and their meagre resources taken and used elsewhere. I hope the unique good humour of the Cornish helped them cope.
William Mortain the son of Robert, received two thirds of the county, but he was not happy with that and constantly stole lands from the church and others. William Mortain then married the daughter of Turstin, the builder of Restormel, whose male line had failed. Richard Fitz Torold was steward to Robert and ruled vast swathes of land around Bodmin.
Turstin ruled over the areas around the Pridias family near Lostwithiel. Robert Mortain systematically took from the county, making values drop hugely in the 20 years between invasion and Domesday and left Cornwall the poorest county in the country at this time. Robert Mortain died in 1090 after rebelling against William Rufus.
After the death of his father, William Mortain demanded the Earldom of Kent in addition to Cornwall. When this was refused he rose with Robert, Duke of Normandy against the King. This attempt failed and William was captured and sentenced to life imprisonment and his eyes to be put out. Apparently due to a miracle he was freed and he became a monk at Bermonsdey and died there in 1140. Henry I then took the Earldom of Cornwall for himself.
Henry I was on the throne when Richard died. He was a king who had already reorganised the judicial system and method of raising taxes. He created the Curia Regis [Lion of Justice] from which all government institutions evolved. Members of the Curea Regis were sent out and tax was imposed on even the very poor. These people then resorted to eating horses, dogs and herbs.
The king had decided a few years previous that all land was his and all the animals within it. He decreed that the manors could punish those who broke his rules and these punishments were wicked.
This time was grim. People lived in houses in the forest reminiscent of mud huts. Filth, poverty and disease made this place terrible to survive in. Traveling along the narrow uneven tracks through the wood meant taking ones life in ones hands. Penalties for theft were so horrifying, that an offender was much more likely to kill than just to rob. Hung for a sheep as a lamb as the saying goes.
Richard de Pridias died leaving Baldwin his heir and by now the lands were referred to as the manor of Pridias. This meant that the Pridias family had authority over the lives and conduct of the inhabitants of that manor. It was a Norman given right to do what the family had been doing before. Richard, I expect was a tough master in order to keep control of the lands.
I hope he wasn’t cruel.
It is also important to note that no documents of this time refer to the family as Prideaux.


More can be read about Richard de Pridias in ‘The Pattern of One‘ in the  book by A A Prideaux, Cornish Prideaux Ghost Stories.



Paganus Prideaux 1040 – 1100 Lord of Prideaux

Sir John MacLean wrote

The name and family of Prideaux is of great antiquity in Cornwall. Soon after the Norman Conquest we find a family seated at Prideaux Castle in the parish of Luxullion and some have attributed to it a British origin. The first of the name of whom we have any record is Paganus or Pagan Pridieaux who in the pedigree registered in the Heralds College is described as Pagan Prideaux, Lord of Prideaux in the Conquest time. 

There has been much debate about whether Paganus came to Cornwall with the Conqueror or whether he was already here. This stems from the fact that the family have been known by the French sounding Prideaux for so many years.There are various points of view on the origination of the name Prideaux. In French it could mean ‘praying or worshipping God’, or ‘by water’. I have also considered the idea that the Cornish Tredwr which means settlement by the water, could have been an origin of the name. The sea certainly used to lap the edges of the Prideaux holdings at one time, although no longer, as will be examined later.
However, the family were known as Pridias before they became Prideaux and later some branches of the family became Priddis, Priddy and combinations thereof.  The Prideaux name was attached to Lord Paganus retrospectively. I have come to the conclusion that Pridias developed from the Old Cornish Prid (clay) and als/aus (cliff). The land stopped at what is now St. Blazey and the se came inland beyond Tywardreath and further inland.
Paganus Prideaux is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, the famous census of lands and its occupants which was drawn up twenty years after the Norman invasion as a means of collecting taxes. If Paganus came to this country with William, then his Prideaux name was dropped immediately he took over the lands around Tywardreath and Luxulyan, for his descendants were known as Pridias during the next generation. Had Paganus been a French invader, there would have been a more detailed family history and as there does not appear to be any record of a Prideaux on the continent prior to the invasion, I am convinced the roots of the family are Celtic. Indeed, the  Normans would have been happy to write about the origins of Richard and his father, had they travelled from France. It was the Normans who wrote about Paganus when referring to Richard Pridias, a man accepted as an associate only a generation later. Richard was refered to as Richard Pridias in all documentation of the time.
Until relatively recently, people were known by the name of their trade or their land or their master. It was a way to identify one man from another. In Saxon times the clan would take the name of their chief. R.M. Prideaux who wrote the wonderfully researched work, ‘A West Country Clan’, considers the Prideauxs to be a clan. This book rarely comes on the market, but  must be read by any serious family tree researcher of the Prideaux line. They will learn  that every blood Prideaux descends from this man.
I believe that Paganus was living in Cornwall at the time of the invasion. He was a clan chieftain of a long established line, surrounded by  family and neighbours and used to dealing and negotiating with invaders.

A Coat of Arms was granted to the Prideauxs on the 9th March 1874 by the College of Arms, making Paganus officially recognised.  A Pedigree was submitted by Stephen Isaacson Tucker, Rouge Croix Pursuivant [junior office at arms] of the College. This was taken from the heraldic visitation of Cornwall in 1620.
Paganus was the father of two sons, Richard and Philip. Little  is known of Philip, so I assume he did not survive long enough to produce a family.
The Domesday entry for the area reads,

Richard holds TYWARDREATH from the Count. Cola held it before 1066 and paid tax for one hide, 2 hides there, however land for 12 ploughs, in Lordship 4 ploughs, 7 slaves, 8 villagers and 18 small holders with 3 ploughs and the rest of the land. Woodland 6 acres, pasture 100 acres. Formerly £4, value now 40s, 11 cattle, 12 pigs, 200 sheep.

A hide tended to be about 120 acres and the pasture and woodland would have been in addition to that.
Domesday also notes that.

Lanescot is a much smaller manor and was held by Albert before 1066

Albert would have been another Saxon.
If Paganus was born in 1040, then he would have been around 26 years of age when William the Conqueror arrived. If he had his son Richard around 1070 and Richard died in 1122, Richard would have been aged 52 years old.   Richard’s son Baldwin died in 1169 and he must have been born in 1109, because of a charter he signed when he just come of age. I admit to fitting these ages around the facts I know, Baldwin dying in 1169 and Paganus being around as a man when the Conqueror invaded, but I doubt they are far wrong.

More can be read about Paganus in ‘Blood of the Lyon Men’ in the book by A A Prideaux, Cornish Prideaux Ghost Stories  which is now available.